Preparing for “The Big One” – Apathy, Too Little-Too Late, or Meaningful Effort?
Every few years, organizations who are incumbents for public sector health administration contracts are faced with “The Big One” – the must-win, central contract on which a majority or all of their revenue depends.
We’ve seen a variety of organizational attitudes and responses to this:
Getting a contract in a competitive procurement depends on many factors, including the quality of the technical solution presented in the proposal; the organization’s past experience with its customer and perceived ability to serve the customer’s future needs; and pricing. Organizations in the first bucket, “Apathy,” roll the dice when they submit their proposal – they submit the proposal and hope for the best. Those in the second bucket, “Too Little-Too Late,” either make a show of preparation to understand and maximize the opportunity, or do it in earnest, but in all the wrong ways. Organizations in the third bucket, “Meaningful Effort,” are prepared. While they might not always win, they have a systematic way to examine opportunities, analyze the factors that will influence the customer’s decision, and try to position themselves in the best way to maximize the probability of winning.
Some typical examples of behaviors we have seen:
- Apathy – “We have lots of operational problems, and have a constantly declining client base for the contract. But we can’t do anything about it because we don’t have the tools, knowledge, and resources to fix the problems. So, we’ll just rely on submitting the best proposal we can – maybe the proposal can make us look great!”
- Apathy – “We’re doing OK, but we have some problems to resolve with our customer, and there are lots of hungry competitors. We’re doing all we can to just operate the contract right not, and can’t be bothered to spend any time working on the next-generation technical solution with the proposal group. Hope they turn in a great proposal!”
- Too Little, Too Late – “This is our critical contract, and so we’re going to work to make sure we retain it. We’re expecting the RFP in one month, so we need to clean up all of the operational problems we have within 30 days. We’ll have the clerical staff [no proposal expertise] write the proposal so our operations staff isn’t distracted.”
- Meaningful Effort – “We’re expecting the RFP in 12 to 18 months. Ninety-seven percent of our performance indicators are within compliance. We have one area that is problematic that we have a task force working on, and they are meeting regularly with the customer to reach a satisfactory resolution. Based on discussions with legislators and agency, as well as community activity, we are expecting changes in four areas of the contract, and each has a project team working to develop a technical solution and communicate with the appropriate stakeholders. Our proposal group is engaged with the task force and project teams so that they know about the solutions.”
Which organization are you? Are you ready to retain your critical contract?